This Saturday, Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz will headline the UFC 279 event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, in a fight that will feature a blockbuster showdown between two fan favorites.
UFC veteran Nate Diaz has only fought five times in the past six years and will duke it out with Chimaev in what will be the last fight of his current contract with the company. The Stockton native has fought 26 times inside the octagon, with a promotional record of 15-11.
The undefeated Chimaev is looking to continue his blistering pace after defeating top-ranked Gilbert Burns by a unanimous decision. The currently ranked #3 welterweight is currently on an 11-fight win streak and wants to challenge the champion, Leon Edwards.
How do they match?
At 37 years old, Nate Diaz is far from his best. After a career spanning nearly 20 years, Diaz appears to be close to hanging up his gloves, and a third consecutive loss could make that happen. Being the last fight of his contract, no one guarantees that the Californian will ever compete again.
Nate Diaz has all the experience in the world to take on any opponent, however, age is unforgiving in combat sports and Chimaev is in his prime. If the fight is on the feet, Diaz is one of the most uncomfortable strikers in the world. His volume of punches and ability to take punishment are some of his main weapons, although the veteran hasn't knocked anyone out since 2013, when he defeated Gray Maynard by TKO.
At ground level, Diaz also has some chance of submitting Chimaev. The Californian won 11 of his 20 victories by submission, being a 3rd degree black belt under Cesar Gracie. His extensive experience as a fighter may play a key role in his winning aspirations.
Chimaev, 28, has shown great power in two divisions. If he destroyed a middleweight like Gerald Meerschaert with one punch, you can imagine the damage he would do to a former lightweight like Diaz.
While Diaz's submission game is superior, Chimaev's wrestling is on another level, and to take the fight to the ground, you have to wrestle first. That's where the Chechnya native is a true monster.
Age and punch assimilation will be critical in a fight where a back-and-forth is expected. Chimaev has everything going for him to dominate Diaz, and why not finish the fight before the fifth round?
In terms of reach and height, there is not much difference between the two. Chimaev, 6'2'', is taller than Diaz by two inches, while the Californian, at 76'', beats him in reach by one inch. Chimaev will most likely come in heavier on fight night.
Anything other than a dominant Chimaev victory will be a huge upset. Although Diaz is well respected in the world of MMA, his best days are behind him.
In his last two fights against Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal, we saw all the damage Diaz suffered until the final bell. It will be hard for the Stockton native to hurt Chimaev before he gets damaged.
Diaz's only real option to win the fight is to submit Chimaev or go all the way to a decision by making a smart fight, something that is not Diaz's style as a natural brawler. Submitting Chimaev won't be easy. A multiple BJJ world champion like Gilbert Burns didn't even came close.
Chimaev is currently at his peak, physically and mentally, and his wrestling is at its best, being one of the most effective in the sport. He should have no problem dominating and finishing Nate Diaz.
Chimaev wins by KO/TKO.